AU IDEAL: Creating an ideal environment for unity at AU

Nick Stupka

AU Ideal is an athletics-based organization at Ashland University that aims to make the campus a place where underrepresented groups are safe to voice their opinions and educate student athletes about issues of diversity and inclusion.

AU Ideal started last year, where it began to develop and promote the many values it seeks to uphold. Elizabeth Hoge, Assistant Athletic Director of Ashland University and an organizer of the event, spoke about what those values are.

“Ideal stands for inclusion, diversity, equity, access and leadership,” Hoge explained. “We want to promote that we have the ideal student athlete. And these are student athletes that are trying to educate themselves and educate others about issues of diversity and inclusion.”

Hoge also continued to emphasize the importance of the group and what it has done for students of color thus far.

“Our student athletes [make up] a lot of our students of color on campus,” Hoge said, “So we’re trying to give them a space and use their platform across campus to show unity and to show what the image of that ideal student is.”

Hoge also noted that AU Ideal has held several events on campus, such as education about the election last year and student-led education about topics such as red-lining, white privilege and microaggressions, but weren’t able to do much programming due to COVID. But this year, AU Ideal will be offering more ways to get involved and its members are looking forward to the future.

One such member of AU Ideal is Mikah Juma, a member of Ashland University eSports, who discussed what the organization means to him and what he’s looking forward to seeing it do.

“I wanted to become a member of AU Ideal to have a safe space to discuss any discriminatory issues that happen in the news, in the city of Ashland or on campus,” Juma stated, “I also wanted to meet new people and to become part of a very new inclusion group to help build the foundation of what the group could become in the future.”

Juma, who plays for the Fortnite team, also talked about what AU Ideal has done so far.
“We’ve only had the opportunity to meet on zoom every month to discuss any news, personal experiences, movies and documentaries,” Juma went on to explain, “This year, we started having in person meetings and we had an AU Ideal table at the volleyball game on Oct. 30 where we were attempting to get our name out there and to get people to join. We’ve gotten a decent amount of members joining and opening up about personal experiences and I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

Juma concluded with his hopes for the future of AU Ideal stating, “I would like to see AU Ideal have as much of a presence as Black Student Alliance, an active social media presence and to have AU Ideal events, talks and social events. I can see this group growing and lasting years since a lot of the minority students that attend Ashland are student athletes and there isn’t a group like this one to have that instant connection with members of the group.”

For more information regarding AU Ideal, contact Elizabeth Hoge at [email protected]

AU IDEAL members made posters to recognize the club to hang up at a volleyball game on Oct. 30. (SUBMITTED BY: AU IDEAL)